Parasite by Bong Joon-ho swept the Oscars at this year's 92nd Academy Awards and every one of them was deserving. The black comedy thriller film tells the story of a destitute family tricking a wealthy clan into accepting them, which unfolds in a way that keeps you glued to your seat. We believe it is the top film of last year or even this year as well.

parasite
Parasite (2019)

 

These film suggestions are for those who have enjoyed Parasite only. Once you've seen it, you might want to watch other Korean dramas just as full of underlying social conflicts. If you haven't watched Parasite, you have to go and watch it now and come back. Anyway, here's a list of useful suggestions for South Korean films after Paradise:

The Host (2006)

Director: Bong Joon-ho

Having watched Parasite, you would probably want to explore the rest of the films by Bong Joon-ho himself. Many of his films like Snowpiercer, Mother or Okja are all very good choices after Parasite. But his film from 2006 called The Host is probably more relatable to Parasite's plotline.

The Host is a mix of thriller, tragedy, and comedy much like Parasite, and the human element is just as crucial to the film. The absurdity which the characters face in their lives is what propels the plot forward. All of that lies underneath the monster-fighting action that keeps the film exciting.

the host korea
The Host (2006)

The dysfunctional and struggling family of The Host should draw straightforward parallels to the one in Parasite. But they also have to fight a tentacled monster that arose from the Han River in addition to all their troubles. You'd notice that Bong's films contain a lot of humor at the heart of the horrific and tragic situations the characters face.

And beneath the monster, the drama and the action, The Host hints at the political dysfunctions that entrap everyday working people in South Korea and how they must stand together when "the authorities" can't do their job.

Train to Busan (2016)

Director: Yeon Sang-ho

Train to Busan is another film like The Host in which social relations go under scrutiny when the unexpected happens. A high-speed train to Busan becomes interrupted by a zombie apocalypse, and normal people find themselves dealing with life-or-death situations. Dysfunctional families and class divide rear their ugly heads when they tend to be overlooked in normal circumstances.

train to busan
Train to Busan (2016)

The film asks questions on what really separates "civilized" society from the rest under these situations. According to Train to Busan, the real threat isn't so much the zombies themselves, but the humans who easily "feast" on others to save their own hides. Train to Busan features a top-notch cast of some of the best South Korean actors.

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Director: Kim Jee-woon

South Korean films often carry an aesthetic not seen in other national cinemas. Films like Parasite and others often have an ethereal feel to them where you can't quite discern reality from fantasy. The surrealism is most prominent in A Tale of Two Sisters, a ghost film from Kim Jee-woon. It is a psychological horror film based on Korean folktale that challenges the viewer's perception.

tale of two sisters
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

There are many twists and turns in this film that keep the viewer questioning what's really going on in the film. Neither the viewer nor the actors in the film could have a real grasp of the events in the film, adding to the horror factor.

The Handmaiden (2016)

Director: Park Chan-wook

Following in the same vein of twists and unreliability is director Park Chan-wook and his films. His film Oldboy is one of the most widely known South Korean films both at home and abroad. But his other film The Handmaiden is probably a better transition from Parasite.

The film has two characters narrating the story. One is Lady Hideko, a Japanese noble lady and a maid/con artist named Sook-Hee. The plot takes influence from the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters with plenty of sexy moments and humor. Each of the narrators has her own version of what happened to them and what goes on in the film.

the handmaiden
The Handmaiden (2016)

With the background being 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea, The Handmaiden is about an erotically charged love story between two women finding themselves. The film's beautiful aesthetic and storyline sum up the strongest parts of Park Chan-wook's films and South Korean cinema in general.

Burning (2018)

Director: Lee Chang-dong

This film by Lee Chang-dong does not contain the same gorgeous aesthetics and fantastical displays in other films. But it still has the essentials of what makes it a South Korean film that stands out from others.

The protagonist Jong-su, a struggling young man, runs into his high school crush and falls in love again. The story that unfolds is one that has elements of expectations and disappointments, class divide, and the unreliability of the human psyche. The tagline of the film is even "The truth is all in your head".

burning steven yeun
Burning (2018)

Burning doesn't have the same exuberant aesthetics as other South Korean counterparts, but its psychological unease and tension are unmissable. The prolonged close-up shots on the faces and places add to the tension in a great way. Even the movie paces itself gently, there's always a sense of dread and discomfort.

I Saw the Devil (2010)

Director: Kim Jee-woon

What's considered nasty and shocking in other cinemas usually features as a kind of beauty in South Korean films. I Saw The Devil is one such example. It doesn't have the same humorous touch as Bong Joon-ho's films, but Kim Jee-woon's work nevertheless does its job as a revenge thriller story.

i saw the devil (2010)
I Saw the Devil (2010)

Movies that deal with the amount of gore and subject matter that I Saw The Devil does usually devolve into nothing more than torture porn. But thanks to Kim's direction and careful structure, it maintains itself as a story of human drama. Albeit in the most grisly way one can make such a movie.

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